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06 07 2009 -France lays down the law on Turkey's EU progress
HONOR MAHONY - 06.07.2009 @ 09:12 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – France has warned Sweden to respect its views on Turkey's EU membership negotiations during its EU presidency, saying it will tolerate the two sides moving closer only in certain areas.

"Everybody knows that as regards enlargement we don't have exactly the same position as regards Turkey," said French president Nicolas Sarkozy following a meeting with his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt on Friday (3 July).

France drew red lines for the Swedish EU presidency (Photo: European Commission)

"I am very sensitive to the fact that the chairman of Europe has to take into account all the points of view."
Mr Sarkozy, a vocal opponent of Turkey's full membership of the EU, said he would not hinder further progress in accession negotiations but only if it concerns non-sensitive areas.
"France will not be against the opening of new chapters under the Swedish chairmanship but, of course, these chapters should allow that Turkey should be an associate member of Europe and not a fully-fledged member," the president said.
"I would not like to create any problems for the prime minister and he doesn't want to create problems for me."
Paris in the past blocked negotiations on economic and monetary union with Turkey, seeing it as a step too far.
Meanwhile, Sweden's Mr Reinfeldt, in charge of the EU until the end of the year, outlined Stockholm's position as diplomatically as possible.
"We also talked about the continued enlargement of the EU. I think the Swedish position is well known," he said.
Sweden is one of the strongest proponents of Turkey eventually becoming an EU member
The issue already caused tension between the two countries in June when Mr Sarkozy abruptly called off a planned visit to Stockholm due to pro-Turkey comments by Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt to leading French daily Le Figaro.
Slow progress
Progress on Turkey's EU membership negotiations has been painfully slow – in part due to foot-dragging by Ankara itself on reforms in human rights and democracy areas. But also due to a reluctance within part of the bloc itself, particularly France and Germany.
Turkey has opened 11 of the 35 policy areas up for negotiation but has only managed to close one – with member states approval needed to both start and end each policy chapter – since it started membership talks with the EU nearly four years ago.
Ankara has repeatedly warned that the EU's lack of enthusiasm will turn ordinary Turks against the project. It has also suggested that the bloc would be shooting an own goal in terms of energy independence if it lost Turkey's support.

It has openly linked its co-operation on the Nabucco project, a cross-Turkey pipeline aimed at reducing Europe's gas reliance on Russia, to EU membership progress.
European Armenian Federation
for Justice & Democracy

European Armenian Federation

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